September 22nd, 2013
09:00 AM ET
9 years ago

Pelosi 'optimistic' about fixing some labor worries in Obamacare

Washington (CNN) – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi acknowledged deep concerns by major unions about Obamacare in an interview that aired Sunday, but vowed to work on a plan to quell those worries.

"We're working on the issue," she said on CNN's "State of the Union."

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Three major labor unions, including the Teamsters, sent a letter to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this summer, disparaging Obamacare as a plan that will "destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week."

At issue is the Affordable Care Act's designation of a full-time employee as someone who works 30 hours per week. The president's health care law will require businesses that employ at least 50 full-time workers to provide health insurance or face a penalty, starting in 2015.

Critics of the provision argue the 30-hour mark for "full-time" employees will cause some businesses to reduce the hours of their workers to fewer than 30. That way, they won't be considered full-time employees and their employers won't be required to offer them health care insurance.

"Numerous employers have begun to cut workers' hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly," Teamsters president James Hoffa wrote in the letter. "The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits."

Pelosi expressed optimism that a compromise can be worked out, as open enrollment begins October 1 and coverage starts January 1.

"There's just so much the president can do within the law," she said. "But there is some leeway to facilitate, as we are in the Congress, under the exchanges."

"I'm optimistic because there's - we will find a path," she told CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Read: House GOP launches shutdown battle by voting to defund Obamacare

She said those who are using legislative maneuvers to try to delay the law-namely House Republicans-aren't doing so out of good will.

"This isn't a good faith initiative," she said. "This is an excuse to, again, hand it all over to their friends, the insurance companies, or, again, not have a public role in this important initiative."

House Republican leaders are already planning their next approach to put off the implementation of Obamacare: They plan to demand a delay, among other items, in exchange for raising the national debt ceiling in the next couple of months.

President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats insist they will not negotiate on a measure to authorize additional borrowing authority for the Treasury Department, which is projected to run out sometime in October or early November. Obama reiterated his position in a phone call with House Speaker John Boehner on Friday.

Asked in the interview if she would agree to anything that would involve a year-long delay of Obamacare, Pelosi said "Absolutely positively not."

"It's important for people to get the advantages that they will have," she said. "And in order to do that, you enlarge the pool to do it. And we're moving forward to do that."

Pelosi also argued health care costs will go down once the law starts next year.

"Now, has that message gotten out? Obviously not adequately," she said.

- CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Congress • Health care • Nancy Pelosi • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Hector Slagg

    There are much better ways to give more health options to the un insurable but the Liberal's can't see it. Now the best thing is to totally repeal Obama Care and start over.

    September 22, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  2. Stuffit

    Just got my health insurance renewal for 2014 and the goof bag Pelosi was right, I had to read it to find out what was in it. It was a 177% increase in cost from the current year. So the Republicans and the TEA party were right and Obozo and the democrat liberals lied. Why is the liberally biased media still defending this lying, corrupt president and his coterie of America haters. Obama hates taxpaying, hard working Americans.

    September 22, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. robertdrobert

    remove the word mandatory from the health care law, and let the American people decide if they want it or not, instead of shoving it down our throat, this ill thought out law like present health care will fail because people will be running for medical aid for every thing from a paper cut to a sneeze , and costs will esculate through the roof, or care will be restricted [ as in death squads] with party favorites getting care and opposition partys getting nothing as in standard political procedure, serve your supporters and screw your opposition, defund it and start over with in put from both partys, at least when it fails it gets dumped in Pelosi,s and obamas lap ,its their puppy when it craps on the floor they get to take the blame and clean up the mess-----–

    September 22, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Dems do NOT know how to "fix" anything. Everything they do, is destructive to our economy.

    September 22, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. robertdrobert

    political dissent and opposing views has always been the American tradition of free speech, at least until Obama took power, and I mean TOOK in capitols, Obama has stifled all dissent with the complete cooperation of the liberal press, this is certainly not the American way! if your political agenda is so unsavory that you have to use such under handed tatics to push a political agenda , that tells me that the agenda being pushed is not only not in the best intrests of the American people but is probably criminal and illegal.. the American people are smart enough to decide their fate even though the politicans donot beleave it–time to flush the toilet in washington

    September 22, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. yippeeskip

    You should have read the damn thing before you voted on it...

    September 22, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The whole country knows that this is the way the government is supposed to work , not with five years of GOP teaparty obstruction. They will lose the GOP controlled house and seats in the senate because of the GOP incompetents !!!!!

    September 22, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. Lonestar54

    It's very sad that people cannot remember that your insurance rates where rising before at roughly the same rates for no reason but now like to point at someone for an attempt to fix our healthcare, is the law perfect no but at least someone had the courage to tackle it. But then again it's easy hate someone as long as your guy didn't do it.

    September 22, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. Tampa Tim

    StuffIt – You either know nothing about math, or you live in a red state.

    September 22, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. Tampa Tim

    A lot of the Fox right wing hate machine are posting idiocy today.

    September 22, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. A Kickin' Donkey

    I've read the "right" comments above about how bad the Democrats are, people shouldn't be forced to have insurance, scrap Obamacare and start over, etc. etc.

    The problem is the right has ZERO credibility. Until Mr. Obama and the Democrats brought us the ACA, the Republicans sat around doing nothing, saying nothing and working against the public interest as it pertains to health and the cost of a healthy America.

    Here's a hint, if you want to have any success, you'd be smarter to stop trying to vilify Obama, stop the implied SLAM when you say "ObamaCare" and propose some PEOPLE-FOCUSED improvements to the ACA. Stop all the "free-market" fixes everything talk because it doesn't. Healthcare premiums have outstripped inflation over the past 30 years; where were GOP voices on that topic when middle class families were being held up by the doctors, drug companies, hospitals, MRI centers, etc.? It was hardly free market forces behind those cartel-like increases.

    I challenge Rick McDaniel, Hector Slagg , robertdrobert and any other so-called conservative that would simply parrot FOXNews talking poings on this blog INSTEAD to tell me ONE, SPECIFIC, DETAILED improvement to the ACA and "scrapping it" does not qualify. I'm waiting . . .

    [By the way, those of you that insist on calling it ObamaCare have just GUARANTEED that Barack Obama will be immortalized, and I mean in a FAVORABLE way, in American history.]

    September 22, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  12. Tom1940

    The wonderful thing about Nancy Pelosi is that she always "wakes up after the fact". She never see's the "if we do this, then that will happen, and if that happens, what comes next!" Didn't the Democrats know that by mandating the 50 employee 30-hour rule in 2015, that her buddies in the Unions would be hit, and hit hard by reduced wages? Nope! They just assumed the employers would fall in line, bend over, and get hosed by the Government. Well, it didn't happen. How do you fix it – repeal Obama Care. Go back get rid of the crap in it and do it over. This time right. But nope. They will "cut out the unions, in some fashion or manner and "get 'er done" – to keep those political contributions rolling in.

    September 22, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Minnie Mouse

    If your running a business of 50 people or more, then these companies should provide insurance to them regardless if the person is full time or part time. This is one part of the law that needs to be changed. Every company should be required to provide insurance to all employees, it should not matter if they are part time, full time or how many employees the company has. If a business is running with only 5 employees, do you not think that these 5 employees don't need insurance?? They would need insurance just like a business that's running with 49 people.

    If you make these employees part time employees just because you don't want to or say you cannot afford the extra cost for insurance, then why would any of these people even want to work for your company?? If you didn't have these full time and part time employees you would not have a business. The people who are getting hour cuts because you don't want to provide them with insurance could cost you your business. You may lose valuable employees to other companies who will provide them with full time hours and the health care, because you would not.

    If you want to make profits and stay in business, the first thing to do is to take care of your employees in order to run your business! Not enough employees = not enough business! Not enough business = not enough profits!

    September 22, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Tampa Tim

    Too bad Boehner doesn't have balls like Pelosi has. John caves in to crazies, and has no control over his party congressmen. The backbone of wilted lettuce is now speaker of the worst congress in history.

    September 22, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. John K

    AS NSA Nancy famously said during the congressional debate on Obamacare: " You have to pass the bill to find out what is in it!" I say we change nothing so that maybe Congress will start reading legislation rather than relying on corporate lobbyists who snuck all kinds of goodies for themselves in this 'health care legislation'. God bless you all!

    September 22, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Neither Right nor Left and don't want to play anymore

    A most delightful article and set of responses. The answer is numerically simpler than all the politics. Insurance costs money, and someone has to pay its premiums. If not businesses, then individuals and if not individuals, then government via subsidies. And of course subsidies mean from tax payers. So the dream that the ACA is somehow not going to cost someone somewhere somehow has always been fallacious. This is merely a political problem for Pelosi now, because as the costs get assigned she will have to dance faster and faster, the words pouring out to hide the fact that folks will see somewhere their costs go up, either via taxation or mandated premiums and probably both. Unions are figuring out that they are getting hit, and expecting protection as a quid pro quo from their politicians. Meanwhile a second tier of medical delivery is forming, as some insurance and some medical providers are deciding not to play the ACA exchange game. This predicts that those who can afford better will still get what they want, and that includes the millionaires. Unsurprisingly Pelosi and her ilk are mostly millionaires. Unsurprisingly most union members are not. Follow the money.

    September 22, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  17. paying congress for nothing

    I notice in every talk shows on Sundays not ONE HOST ask the Senators, or Representative. who is against healthcare WHAT IS YOUR PLAN so Americans can all have healthcare. Instead they all just blow hot air full of S-.. What's kill me is this a plan started by Bob Dole and the Heritage Foundation back in the early. 90's. Go figure.

    September 22, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. Gurgyl

    Nothing wrong with this, it is the law. Period.

    September 22, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. johnrotten

    heres a good alternative to getting health insurance for most americans, get a job. open up drilling, the worldwide community already proved that global warming is a hoax set up by commies and libs to tax more things, get the government out of our lives, healthcare costs so much because of insurance and insurance/medicare was a bi-product of early progressives and the unions look it up, democrats always want an alternative, the alternative is stop being a piece of garbage and do something for yourself. the government was never meant to help you it was meant to protect you from tyranny, if u want government healthcare move to Canada- O WAIT, that would mean youd have to immigrate and that would mean you need a job :(. I feel bad for people too im not heartless, but destroying peoples lives so people who don't take care of themselves can have something they honestly don't deserve isn't the answer. FYI most states have healthcare programs for people who cant afford it leave it at that the rest of the people probably don't want it. insurance is too expensive and republicans have tried to get bills passed to allow ins. to be sold across state lines and limit the amount people can sue for to try to help reduce costs but guess who would rather control the system than just help reduce costs.
    Use your head less government means more freedom, if you want to help those less fortunate start an organization otherwise shut up

    September 22, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. johnrotten

    its a law? then why does Obama and congress (reps and dems) keep granting waivers and delays? if its so great then why don't they want it? the answer is because its more expensive and less effective, it will destroy the already fragile economy.

    September 22, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. Tampa Tim

    John K – that is a lie. Only Fox continues to spread this nonsense to their uniformed viewers.

    September 22, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. Thomas

    Rick McDaniel
    Dems do NOT know how to "fix" anything. Everything they do, is destructive to our economy.


    So you truly believe GW Bush's economic policy had nothing to do with the crash of 08 ?

    Maybe you would like him to return to office and fix the what he busted ?

    September 22, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. mer

    labor got a sweetheart deal at GM – if they get special dispensation for ObamaCare i will personally march on Washington. special deals for special people - is this what Democrats are all about? what a turn-off = makes me more and more independent.

    September 22, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. jpmichigan

    Just maybe if you took the time to read the bill before you voted on it, just maybe we wouldn't have these problems. But that's what happens when your votes are purely on political lines, not what is best for the American people. I HATE THE WORD MANDATORY. For persons in Congress the word MANDATORY doesn't mean a thing for they opt themselves out of Obama care, wish the American PEOPLE COULD. But then the American people have the power of the voting booth, so Congress be very carefull in what you do, start looking for a new job and new benefits that you have to pay.

    September 22, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. Michigan patriot

    When she opens her mouth garbage comes out. She said,"lets pass it first, then you can find out what's in it." REALLY! since when we do things like that. If its such a good health insurance why the Congress don't want it for themselves? Wake up people! Obama and the rest of the democrats have been lying all along. How people are going to be able to pay for this? Affordable? Not true, mine went up and we can not continue to afford it. It needs to be repealed, and start over.

    September 22, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |